Fen Tared Charst has betrayed his brother, and his people. To right the wrongs he’s done, he suffers the horrors of the zeel pits only to find himself a captive of the Temi tribe. In Yalfar, he discovers that leading the Temi princess and her warriors from their dying world is the key to his redemption. But losing his heart to Princess Joyella will be the key to saving his soul.
Princess Joyella Denue has broken a sacred law and for that, she is exiled from Yalfar. To regain her honor, she agrees to lead a convoy topside to escape the collapsing city, but she can’t make the journey alone. She needs someone who has traversed the path to guide her. Tared is forced to help her, but he soon becomes more than just a guide, he becomes her heart
Her hand rose to ward him off. “No. Beast, don’t come closer. I won’t be tempted by your lustful nature. Not now. Not ever.”
“Strong words for a woman destined to be mine. But – I can wait.” He backed away and sat on an outcropping of rock. From the pouches along his waist, he pulled a nourishment packet. “Here, you need food.”
She took the offered sustenance, sat across from him, and tore open the seal. The food inside didn’t look appetizing, but it had all the needed nutrients. She took a bite, realizing she was hungrier than she thought. “You need to eat also.”
“In time. Right now, I have an appetite for something else. I need to suppress the urge before I can eat.”
She choked on a bite. He laughed, the sound echoing off the chamber walls. He seemed so different when he smiled or laughed, not at all the ferocious warrior bent on claiming his due. She set the packet in her lap and played with the torn end. “Why did you help me?”
He gazed at the stalactites above her. “I want you to succeed.”
“But you could have incited my warriors to follow you instead. They want to trust someone that’s actually been to the surface.” She stared at her stomach. “Someone who hasn’t betrayed their faith.”
“We would lose a day if we backtracked. Your way is just as valid.”
“But how do you know?” She gripped the crisp edge of the container. Food started to spill out and she relaxed her hold. But she had to know. She needed some form of reassurance because the people had forced her to doubt her own mind, to doubt Yorellite’s vision.
“I saw what you saw.”
“But that doesn’t mean you have to believe my thoughts. What if they were only fanciful dreams? How can you be sure I know the way out?”
He made no comment.
She stared at his averted face, trying to see deep into his soul. Then she knew. “By Yutenk’s Glow, I don’t believe you. You didn’t just read my thoughts, did you?”
He shrugged. “I did what I thought best.”